The year is 2175. Mars continues to develop as Earth's largest off world colony. The first man on Mars landed August 12th, 2027. A permanent base was established here in 2036, following the discovery of large deposits of highly valuable minerals and gemstones.
With Earth's booming over population and pollution problems, corporate interests decided to invest in Martian city base and industry development. Wily bean counters in the upper levels of huge international conglomerates, and the general advancement in space technologies and propulsion systems, had made exploiting Mars's vast resources a new highly profitable venture. This created the initial large volume of immigrants to the red planet. Others were lured by its strange beauty, the chance to become rich working for high "off-world" wages, and still others came simply for the ability to escape the crushing over population and poverty problems of Earth's ever growing urban slums.
Through the utilization of interplanetary transports, equipped with huge "solar sails"as their primary means of propulsion, supply and shipment of raw materials to and from Earth's red child became an economically sound operation. Unfortunately, one way trip times of these transports ran upwards of 400 days, mandating the need and subsequent development of human hibernation technology. Mars or Earth bound travelers were loaded into sleep tubes before the ships ever left. Only the crews of these craft experienced interplanetary space and even they went into hibernation for the majority of the transit time.
Fifty years after man first set foot on Mars (2077 A.D.), more than 20 large settlements had been established. As was the natural case with man's development on Earth, geographical cultural development began to evolve. This was further encouraged simply by the old Earth origin of the settlement's primary funding corporation. Thus, there were major clusters of inhabitants, and even whole settlements, which looked for all purposes like seed pods of cultures and countries grafted directly from the blue homeworld.
The Americans and Russians initially arrived, being the core of the first series of explorations from 2027 thru 2036. For the next 15 years there was a large influx of Japanese, Korean, and Chinese concerns; many of which worked in the fields of agricultural biospheric development. Also during this time, many companies of the Arabic world came up to Mars, often stating that it seemed "much like home" to them. The Arabs brought their drilling technology expertise, which very soon became a vital activity on Mars. Another country with representatives and economic entities on the Red Planet were the South Africans. Their proven skills and technologies in "deep mining", were essential.
For the first 50 years of man's Martian history, little concern was paid to the idea of terriforming or changing the climate of Mars. This era was about rapid development, and profit. However, this changed radically when in 2108 a large ice-asteroid or comet was discovered, heading for a very close pass to the red planet. The body measured 14km in diameter and if redirected to impact on Mars, could bring much needed water to the dry world as well as heating the planet and increasing the pressure of the atmosphere.
An so it came to pass, with little warning and with even less time to carefully or completely debate the whole process which was being put in motion, that a large ice cube from the dark abyss of the outer solar system was nudged for impact. It hit as projected in the isolated and uninhabited area of the darklands known as Arcadia Planitia. Unfortunately, the full power of the collision and what was to come was grossly under estimated...
The Great Impact of 2108, as it came to be called, shrouded Mars in a dark cloud of Arcadia black dust for 3 years. The black fines from the plain were shot many kilometers up into the thin Martian atmosphere and were further kept aloft by a terribly stormy following winter. During this period, many settlements had to be shut down or abandoned, or rigged to run without any assistance from sunlight.
When most of the dust settled out, by 2112, Mars was a different place. First and most important, there was a small frozen sea on the surface in the middle of Arcadia Planitia. It was not known how long it would remain there, but for the time being, there was water a plenty on the surface of Mars! Second, the impact had increased the average Martian air temperature from -50 centigrade (near the equator) to near -30. Third, the atmosphere was greatly thickened to almost .4 Earth Atmospheres by the unexpected mass thawing of Mars's carbon dioxide southern polar icecap. In the span of 8 months after the comet hit, the huge expanse of dry ice at the bottom of the red planet disappeared.
In the decades that followed, scientists, scolars, and theologians, endeavored to research every aspect of the event, but in the end, few, if any of them had all the answers as to why one impact would have caused so much planetary change. One permenant reminder seemed to be that a small portion of the black fines never did come down, and so man made Mars a slightly darker world in sunlight for himself.
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